Plyojump - Computer History

Computer History - Networks (1845-present), and The Internet Era (1994-Present)

1991-1993 - The rise of the Web

A complete history of the web:

Concept map by Tim Berners-Lee for the Web in 1989

web concept map Tim Berners-Lee

Link to the original proposal


Mosaic - the first graphical web browser (1993)

Mosaic 1993 beta

Marc Andressen
Marc Andressen, who created Mosaic as a summer school project at the University of Illinois in 1993


Netscape - the first commercial browser/dotcom company (1994)

Netscape original

Netscape was co-founded by Marc Andressen and Jim Clark (from Silicon Graphics). Their company pioneered many of the features of a modern Internet company

Ancient web browser downloads -


Milestones in the Early Web

The web and the "Dotcom" era (1994-2000)

Link to Kaleidospace Home Page - Spring, 1994
Kaleidospace (later renamed

Alternate link

kaleidospace wheel Creating Internet Entertainment
A segment of a 1990s Kaleidospace page, along with the first book on Internet Entertainment, 1996

Web pages from the 1990s

Yahoo 1996
Yahoo! in 1996

Hotmail in 1996

See billions of web pages from 1996 and later at

Milestones from the late 1990s


The Browser Wars

During the 1990s, Netscape Navigator and Microsoft Internet Explorer held large segments of the web browser market. Since they had different models for several critical browser technologies (e.g. JavaScript vs. JScript) websites had to support two sets of code. The difficulty in maintaining two parallel sites kept most developers from developing past simple HTML and CSS.

graph of the war between netscape and microsoft, from wired magazine

Microsoft won the browser wars by licensing versions of Internet Explorer to major Internet Service Providers (ISPs) like America Online (AOL). It also introduced a web editor, FrontPage, which authored HTML according to Microsoft standards.

As part of the browser wars, both companies introduced nonstandard HTML extensions that further fragmented HTML standards. Many of these tags created style changes, are are better replaced by CSS styles.

Deprecated HTML tags (DO NOT USE!)

Deprecated HTML tag attributes (mostly used to style HTML tables)

New browser wars?


The Dotcom Crash

The collapse of Internet speculation in 2001-2002 eliminated thousands of websites and business models. Only a few companies survived. As a result, web design stagnated, based around HTML4 with some CSS.

Internet bubble


The "Long Winter" of IE6

With the collapse of Netscape in 1999, Internet Explorer became the only significant browser in the market. As late as 2008, IE's market share was over 80%. This led to stasis in web design and numerous sites customized around the "quirks" of IE6, IE7, IE8.

browser icons

Use of IE quirks also held back progess in another way. Many companies had used quirky features specific to IE6. When newer versions of IE came along, their IT departments prevented upgrades. Since Microsoft did not force browser software upgrades (the standard practice today), in 2008 a large minority of companies continued to use IE6 from 2001, despite Microsoft's attempts to get them to upgrade to IE7 and IE8.


The Flash mob

Because of browser inconsistencies, Macromedia (later Adobe) Flash, a cross-platform way of making interactive and animated "movies" prospered. Many designers used Flash exclusively, almost ignoring HTML and CSS. All-Flash sites often resembled mini-movies, and had quirky and nonstandard interaction. While it gave designers freedom, it often came at a price of usability and accessiblity.

flash icon

Flash caused two additional problems. Because the Flash movie did not use HTML, its contents could not be read by search engines. And its purely visual nature locked out people with visual disabilities. In time Macromedia, and later Adobe, was sued by disabled rights groups over their exclusion of "differently advantaged" people on the web.


PHP and MySQL form a bond

In the late 1990s, it was extremely difficult to connect a database to a website. In early 2000s, new APIs were added to PHP, which allowed "regular" web developers to create database-driven websites.

PHP and MySql logos together


The Web returns as a social network - 2004-2013

These "new dotcoms" - actually made money via sale of user activities to advertisers.

google myspace facebook


The Web reborn - new technologies and browsers


Major players in the "reborn web"


Eric Meyers - CSS "reset"

Ethan Marcotte - Responsive Web Design

Luke Wroblewski - Mobile First

A List Apart - the top blog for web design and development


New web design theories

Progressive Enhancement - start with a universally-accessible design, then enhance for higher-end clients and platforms

Standards-Based Web Design - don't use browser "quirks" and apply W3C standard HTML, CSS and ECMAScript compliant JavaScript

Responsive Web Design - create multiple layouts for different screen sizes, and optimize the layout for the user experience with each kind of device

Mobile First - design your mobile site, and derive your desktop site from it, rather than the other way around

The era of the "web app"

With better JavaScript and HTML5, it became possible to make websites function like native programs. On mobile devices, customized websites are able to mimic programs written in "native code."



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